Avery Hoggard will graduate from Fox High School with a full-ride scholarship, thanks to her passion for livestock judging.
When she first started attending the school, the agriculture instructor didn’t even teach judging, due to a lack of interest among students. Hoggard, who has been judging livestock since she was in grade school, helped start a team that will continue when she leaves to  attend Eastern State Oklahoma College. She said for her, animals and the livestock industry have always been her favorite part of 4H and FFA.
“What drew me toward the judging part is that it kind of gives me my own opinion,” Hoggard said. “It gives me a chance to explain my opinion.”
She plans to major in agribusiness and may go on to judge livestock at OSU. If not, she plans to return home and start her own livestock marketing company.
She said she also plans to start a livestock judging camp in Fox, to give students more chances to learn and practice.
“There’s not a lot of opportunities to get into it around here,” Hoggard said. “I want to come home and give these kids the opportunity, and tell them ‘Hey, you can do this.’ That’s what I loved about my signing day. All those kids got to see me sign.”
She said she got into judging when she was in third grade, after attending the World Pork Expo in Iowa. Livestock judging mainly focuses on cattle, swine, goats and sheep. A group of officials judge the competitors’ judging, and students are encouraged to explain their rationale to the judges.
“They just kind of threw me in there into a judging contest, and I fell in love with it, honestly,” Hoggard said. “You compete against people your own age.”
She said having to explain her position and support her judging calls has helped her grow as a judge and as a person.
“It’s taught me not to back down from my opinion, and not to let other people sway me from my opinion,” Hoggard said. “It’s taught me multiple life lessons.”
Hoggard said she got her start with the National Junior Swine Association and has been involved with 4H and FFA her whole life. Her family are all involved in agriculture in some way, but her mother, Dana Denise Smart-Hoggard, shared her passion for judging. Her mother passed away recently, the day before a local competition.
“It happened the day before my local show, a week before my county show and like a week before my first judging contest,” Hoggard said. “It was one of those things where I knew that’s what she wanted me to do, and this livestock industry is more than just friends.”
She said while continuing was a challenge, the community she’s become a part of helped her through it every step of the way.
“These friends turn into family,” Hoggard said. “They’re so supportive, and them being there helped me a lot.  I had to persevere, I had to keep on going.”